|Route:||Rio De Janeiro to Rio De Janeiro|
|Transport:||Private bus, Metro|
Brazil has a totally different feel to it than the other Latin American countries. The only Portuguese-speaking country in South America, it positively vibrates with a unique and dynamic energy of its own.
Most visitors start in the dazzling city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's most famous city and home to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue and some of the world's most fantastic and atmospheric urban beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema.
Brazil's wildlife is legendary, and there is no greater place to spot animals and birds in South America than the wetlands of the Pantanal. Here, it's possible to go spotting for ocelots, jaguars, tapirs, jabiru storks, caiman, and many types of birds! The optional activities available in the region and the nearby eco-tourism capital of Bonito are as amazing as they are numerous, with boat trips, rafting, snorkelling through crystal-clear rivers, and caving being just a few of the many possibilities here.
Further to the south is one of the greatest natural highlights in the world, the majestic Iguazu Falls! These colossal waterfalls are amongst the most impressive on the planet and a phenomenal sight on anyone's travels through South America!
Near to Rio de Janeiro you'll find the idyllic colonial towns of Paraty and Ouro Preto, once hugely important for gold trading back in colonial times, and each with their own serene atmosphere today. In the interior, we will explore the bizarre futuristic capital city of Brasilia, a fascinating and somewhat unusual highlight of the country.
Further inland we find the incredible landscapes of the Chapada dos Guimarães National Park, dotted with stunning caves and waterfalls and providing some fantastic walking opportunities.
Brazil is an incredible country with a very lively culture, and is packed full of excellent highlights which make it a wonderful place to explore!
The first day of Rio Carnival is free time, as everyone will be arriving at various times throughout the day to start the package. Hotel check in is from midday and Dragoman crew will be on hand all day to give you any assistance. There will be a joining meeting in the afternoon.
There will also be an optional dinner after dinner which you would have to pre-book with Dragoman.
If you are on an overland trip coming from Paraty or Teresopolis, today will be a short drive day, bringing you to the biggest party on the planet!
Head out for a welcome dinner with your fellow travellers in a Churrascaria, a famous Brazilian-style restaurant
Rio de Janeiro has to be one of the most beautifully situated cities in the world. The stunning Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf) Mountain rises up out of Guanabara Bay and the sandy beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana cut beautiful curves in the shoreline, all under the watchful gaze of the iconic Art Deco statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
This is a city with something for everyone - beaches, history, shopping, culture, fantastic food and amazing nightlife. For amazing views of this spectacular city, take the cable car up to the top of Pão de Açucar, ride the train to Corcovado or jump on the tram to the historic hillside neighbourhood of Santa Teresa. If you're interested in learning more about Rio and Brazil, there are several fascinating museums in the city and you'll see some fantastic architecture by wandering around the older parts of the city.
Kick back and relax on the famous urban beaches, enjoy a beer or caipirinha at one of the many street-side cafes and then when evening comes you can party the night away - Rio has some unbelievable bars and clubs in the buzzing areas of Lapa and Ipanema. If you need a bit of quiet time to recover, take a walk in the city's wonderful botanical gardens, or escape the city for the day on an excursion to the lush forests of nearby Tijuca National Park.
Rio is particularly famous for its huge annual party - the incredible Rio Carnival. The celebration of Mardi Gras (6 weeks before Easter) is a great Brazilian tradition - the whole city goes wild for a full 7 days in a whirlwind of music and colour. Samba schools compete with ever more awe-inspiring dance displays, floats and costumes, putting on marathon perfomances in the Sambadrome, and street parties are held all over the city.
Today there is an optional visit up Corcovado mountain on a guided trip with all transport included to the Christ the Redeemer statue with great view of Rio.
This afternoon is free for you to do as you wish.
Take a half-day tour the amazing statue of Christ the Redeemer on the top of the Corcovado mountain, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and a world-famous icon of Brazil - taking in the breathaking views of Rio de Janeiro and the bay below
Today is a free day to sleep and gather your energies for the Sambadrome.
You can also join an optional tour of the Morrinho Favela Project
In the evening the main event of carnival occurs with a trip to the Sambadrome for the samba parade. The top samba schools parade their outrageous floats and costumes and we'll party well into the early hours.
Visit one of Rio de Janeiro's famous favelas and the Project Morrinho, a Dragoman-supported community project and art installation run by the youth of the area
Visit one of Rio de Janeiro's famous favelas and the Project Morrinho, a Dragoman-supported community project and art installation run by the youth of the area
Today is a free day after the late night last night.
You can spend the day relaxing at the beach or take part in optional activities such as visiting the majestic Sugar Loaf mountain from where there are stunning views over Rio and its surrounding beaches, going to the sambadrome for a 2nd night or actually taking part in the parade.
Get some of the most phenomenal views of Rio de Janeiro by taking a cable car up the Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain)
Today you have a full free day to explore; perhaps find a 'block party' to continue the festivities.
In the evening there's the option to go to the gay ball.
There's free time in the morning but if you wish to explore further then join our local guide on an optional Colonial Tour of the city.
In the afternoon there will be the included sunset boat trip, to enjoy Rio de Janerio from a completely different prospective.
Learn all about Brazil's history and discover the colonial gems of Rio de Janeiro on a city tour
The final day of the Carnival package. Depart at any time or spend the day exploring further or relaxing.
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautifully situated cities in the world, nestling beneath the Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) that rises out of Guanabara Bay, and flanked by the sandy beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. The Carnival at Rio is one of the best spectacles in the world and lasts for about 5 days on the run up to Shrove Tuesday. The whole city comes alive with music, singing and dancing and the streets are never empty. Be prepared for sleepless days and nights, as the partying is non-stop, be it in the streets, or at one of the many balls, or in the famous Sambadrome watching the parading carnival groups with their extravagant costumes and floats. The various samba 'schools' all compete for a prize and the honour of being the champion carnival group of the year. Around the time of the Carnival, our trips are timed to fit in with the event, so you can be sure of enjoying Carnival with a group of like-minded people and there are likely to be over 100 fellow travellers enjoying the carnival experience. We will however aim to keep you in smaller groups of 20-25 for planned activities.
There is just so much to see and do in
Day 1: Friday
The first day is free time, as everyone will be arriving at various times throughout the day to start the package. Hotel check-in is from midday and Dragoman staff will be on hand to give you any assistance. There will be a joining meeting in the Argentina Hotel in the afternoon. Please check the noticeboard in the hotel reception for further details on arrival. After the meeting we have a table booked at a nearby buffet restaurant if you would like to join your leader and group for a meal.
Day 2: Saturday
This morning you have an introductory walking tour to get to know the local area. Your guide will then bring you to a street parade for a quintessential Rio Carnival experience. In the afternoon you may wish to join us to a guided tour of a favela and a community project that we support.
Optional Morrinho Project - £52
Morrinho is the name used by the youth of the Pereira da Silva favela for their scale model of a favela made basically with bricks. The Morrinho began in 1998, when Nelcirlan (14 years old at that time) starting building the Morrinho, together with his brother Maycon. Today, the Morrinho model occupies an area of 300 square metres in the community Pereira da Silva and has a wealth of details such as funk clubs, police, drugs sales points, alleys, staircases, small bars etc. The model is now being used to generate money by the NGO Morrinho, a charity that provides professional qualifications to the residents of the Pereirão Community through workshops including audiovisual production, art-education, Brazilian culture, and youth and citizenship. The charity is also involved in utilising the project as a film set, which has raised awareness of how harsh life is for shanty town dwellers. The trip includes a donation of 50 BRL to the charity.
Day 3: Sunday
Early this morning you have the opportunity to go for a guided tour of Corcovado and the statue of Christ the Redeemer. Late afternoon it may be wise to have a disco nap before the big highlight of Rio Carnival - a visit to the Sambadrome! Included in your trip is a visit to sector 13, or you may chose to upgrade to sector 11 for a closer view of the parade. Please click here to view a map of the Sambadrome.
The Sambadrome was designed by Brazil's world-famous architect, the modernist Oscar Niemeyer. It was purpose-built for the Samba Parade and inaugurated in 1984. Being made of concrete, it seems a bit dated for the post-modern eyes of today and has a derelict feeling during the year, serving only little cultural events. However, it comes to life and is magnificent being lit up with special effects on Samba Parade nights, filled with thousands of cheering spectators and surrounded by other thousands of people who could not get in. It can seat around 70,000 people, which is already far too few for the ever growing Rio Carnival Parade. However, since it is under protection, it cannot be rebuilt or even extended. The Samba schools have prepared all year for their hour of glory on carnival night. The top 12 Samba schools parade on Sunday and Monday, six each night. The two nights are similar in terms of set-up, the only difference being the schools parading. The best school is chosen by a hand-picked set of judges on the basis of many components including percussion, the theme song, harmony between percussion, song and dance, choreography, costume, storyline, floats and decorations. The championship is hotly contested, with the winner becoming the pride of both Rio and Brazil. The parade is a glitzy, lavish, vegas-style affair with beautiful, topless mulatas who make samba look easy in their feathered head-dresses, long flowing capes sparkling with sequins and rhinestone studded G-strings. The floats are extremely lavish and some of them are technically quite amazing. The Brazilians harness sweat, noise and confusion and turn it into art, with the parades beginning in moderate mayhem then working themselves up to a higher plane of frenzy. The samba is driven by the drummers with between 200 and 400 per school. The parades head down the runway of the Sambadrome flanked by the tiers of spectators, singing, dancing and applauding their favourite schools. The parade continues on through the night and into the morning. Some of the best schools are always kept until last to make sure that the party continues until the very end.
Sambadrome Visit (sector 13) - included
We will be situated in sector 13 which allows an overview of the whole event and a good chance to party with the locals. Sector 13 is at the end of the sambadrome runway and has the best atmosphere of all the stands. It is full of local Cariocas who really support their samba school with lots of singing and dancing. It is a wonderful local experience but can get very busy, reminiscent of a noisy football crowd. There are no fixed seats but concrete bleachers and people stand up as the samba schools pass by. We will travel to the Sambadrome in the early evening by metro and on foot with the Dragoman crew. It is up to you how long you stay but every year there are a few who make it through to the last parades and get back to the hotel for breakfast at 7am! Please note that sector 13 is set back a bit from the actual runway so does not offer the best close up views of the parade. If you should wish there's an option to upgrade to sector 11 for a much closer view of the parade - this is highly recommended if you're interested in photopraphy and would like good pictures of the costumes and floats.
Optional Sambadrome Upgrade to sector 11 - £130
Sitting in sector 13 is not for everyone and for those of you who want a closer view of the parade we offer you the chance to upgrade to sector 11. This sector neighbours sector 13 but is much closer to the action. The seating however is identical, being on concrete bleachers and can be equally busy but not quite so boisterous.
Optional Corcovado visit - £65
We head to one of the most iconic sights in Brazil - the statue of Christ the Redeemer at the top of Corcovado mountain. Accompanied by our local guide we will travel in a private bus to the foot of the mountain and onwards along the scenic route to the top. From the base of the statue there is an incredible vista of southern Rio and its beaches, as well as the Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) and Guanabara Bay. The clouds can sometimes decide to hide all of this from us at a moment's notice, so take your photos as soon as you have the opportunity! You are free to wander around as you wish or you may like to listen to our guide who can tell you more about the history of the statue and the area. There is also a restaurant and shop for drinks, snacks and gifts as well as toilet facilities. At a prearranged time we will all meet to return back to our hotel.
Today is a free morning to relax after a late night in the Sambadrome. In the afternoon you there is the option to go on a guided visit to the Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain). In the evening you have the chance to return for some more of the lavish spectacle in the Sambadrome - either as a spectator in sector 5 or why not don a fabulous costume and join in the parade!
Optional Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) visit - £63
We will take an afternoon half day tour to visit the iconic Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain). We leave from the hotel on our coach, accompanied by our local guide and all entrances are included. Pão de Açúcar gets its name from its shape, as the huge rounded incline looks like traditional cones of sugar. These sugar cones were made from raw sugar to make transportation easier. On arrival at the base of the mountain, we will board the cable car and head up to the mid way point and then up to the top station. The ride in itself is a fantastic experience skimming above the forested mountain peak with the sea and city spreading out below. At both stations there are incredible views of the city below and across to Corcovado. There will be plenty of time to wander around and take in the spectacular views, learn more about the construction of the cable car and enjoy a drink or snack at one of the restaurants. Just make sure you have plenty of space on your memory card for all your photos. Once we have taken our fill of the panoramic views we return to the bottom by cable car and back to the hotel on our waiting coach.
Optional Return to the Sambadrome (sector 5) - £230
During Rio Carnival the top 12 Samba schools parade in the Sambadrome with 6 parading on the Sunday night and then 6 on the Monday night. For Monday night we have tickets in sector 5, which is nearer the entrance to the Sambadrome than sector 13 where you will be on Sunday night. There are some unique benefits to sitting in sectors located toward the beginning of the parade route. You will experience less lag time between the conclusion of one samba school’s procession and the beginning of the next school’s performance, and more importantly, you will have the full excitement and exhilaration of watching the opening performance of a school’s parade. The crowd goes wild, and the locals normally find the beginning moments of the parade to be the most exciting as a whole year has passed since the school’s last performance.
This second visit will give you the opportunity to see all 12 of the schools so you can choose your own winner! You will be exhausted after a second visit but it’s a fantastic experience. Included is your Sambadrome ticket, Metro tickets and a guide to accompany you to and from the Sambadrome (not staying with you).
Optional Join the Parade - £525
Watching the parade is one thing but actually taking part in the parade is a real thrill and an unparalleled experience. You will be a part of one of the ground wings or alas, parading between the massive floats that make up the parade. Each school has between 65 and 80 minutes to parade and each ala/wing passes through the Sambadrome in about 30-40 minutes - it is exhausting but unforgettable! The alas provide a massive display of colour and movement - each school has about 25 alas and each one tells a part of the overall story/ theme of the Samba school. The alas get judged for their stamina throughout their parade and the singing. Being able to samba is not necessary – there is a kind of jumping, bouncing way that people parade to overall create the whole feeling of strength and happiness. You will be one of the approx 4,000 paraders in a school and each and every person must put their utmost energy into their performance for the school. This is the most important event of the year for Cariocas (the people from
Your costume will be delivered to the hotel ready for the parade, and is yours to keep! You will be joining the Vila Isabel samba school who is the first to parade on Monday. The meeting time will be around 19:00 hrs and the starting time is 21:00 hrs. The actual parade lasts about 1 hour. You will be accompanied by a guide to the starting point. Please note that Metro tickets are included but entry into the Sambadrome is not included. If you should wish to enter the Sambadrome as a spectator then you will need to buy a separate ticket.
Please note that Brazilian shoe size and clothing sizes are needed at the time of booking - click here to view a conversion table and guide for sizing. For shoe sizes it is advisable to order one size larger than usual as the shoes are often very tight.
Day 5: Tuesday
Today is free day for you to explore the city and an opportunity to have a walk along the beaches, maybe a swim or maybe just a long lie in! The famous sweep of Copacabana Beach is probably the most talked about length of sand on the planet. It is a fantastic location with Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) at one end whilst far in the distance you see further peaks covered in Atlantic rainforest. There are plenty of small cafes serving drinks and snacks along the beachside pavement, when you are ready for a break from the sand. In this stunning location even the pavements are beautiful, with white and black tiles forming waves and patterns. Late evening there's the option to attend the famous gay ball!
Optional Gay Ball - 80 GBP
The balls at Carnival are part of the whole experience and this has been the most popular ball from previous years. If you are going to visit just one ball then this is the one we recommend! Put aside any inhibitions you may have, get your costume sorted - plenty of glitter absolutely necessary - and get dancing with all the other partygoers. It is a fantastic experience and people are generally very friendly with loads of photo opportunities and some incredible sights! Music is a variety of samba and more modern music so there's something for everyone, and if dancing is really not your thing there is plenty of people watching to do. The venue itself is like a night club rather than a lavish ballroom as the name might suggest, so the glitter and glam is created by the ballgoers rather than by the locality. The ball can startle some people but it really is a memorable event and one which you will talk about long after carnival has been and gone. Make sure you save a bit of energy for this climax to carnival. The ball goes from midnight on Tuesday until the early hours of Wednesday morning and the ticket includes an open bar for water/soft drinks/beer/caipirinha as well as assorted finger foods.
Please note that transport is not included but it is easy to share a taxi there and back with fellow revellers. Please also note that you may be able to find cheaper tickets once you are in Rio. However, previous years tickets have been known to sell out and as a result have changed hands at more than double face value during the days leading up to the ball.
Day 6: Wednesday
This marks the end of the Carnival package. If you're joining an overland trip there will be a pre-departure meeting tonight.
Optional activies – All the optional activities listed above need to be booked prior to arrival at Carnival and by 15 December 2016 at the latest. This can be done by contacting Dragoman's sales team or your agent. More details can be found here.
Accommodation – This is on a shared basis (twin, triple or quad share) with breakfast included daily but no other meals. All rooms are en-suite with air-conditioning, TV, fridge and safe. There is a single supplement available at an additional cost of £390; please enquire with your sales agent at the time of booking if you should wish to purchase the single supplement.
Money changing – Banks will be closed over most of Carnival but some money changers stay open although exchange rates are not always that good. Cash will give you the best exchange rates - usually USD, GBP and EUR are easily exchanged. Travellers Cheques whilst being the safest option will give you a poorer exchange rate - American Express Office is open through Carnival for exchange. Cash machines are located nearby to the hotel but can run out of money, so plan in advance and be very aware of theft and fraud.
Crew – Although there are likely to be over 100 people attending carnival you will be split into groups of no more than 25 for the included activities, each group being allocated a Dragoman leader.
There is no kitty. Accommodation is on a B&B basis, in shared rooms and is covered by the tour cost.
You may wish to consider bringing the following items with you to Rio Carnival:
The routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only.
These trip notes have been compiled to help you prepare for your journey once you have booked. They include the full itinerary and dates, and information about kit lists, meeting hotels, insurance, vaccinations, visas, and other information that will help you get ready for your trip.
We update these notes regularly, so please ensure you have an up-to-date version of these trip notes.
We intend to follow the planned route but exact night stops and inclusions cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. By their very nature, overland itineraries need to be flexible and the regions that we are travelling through are often unpredictable. We run adventure journeys in off the beaten track areas, which often have poor infrastructure. You should expect that some of these areas do not adhere to 'Western' safety standards.
Many countries that we visit on our travels will require visas to enter. Some are best obtained before you leave home, and others can be obtained en-route. Whilst the ultimate responsibility for obtaining visas is yours, we will endeavour to assist you wherever possible.
The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. The information provided is given in good faith and we do try to keep the visa information as up to date as possible. Please read the information very carefully to make sure everything is clear and you aware of what you need to do. Please also be aware that rules surrounding visas do change, often suddenly, and without prior warning. This is why it is important that you also double-check the information we provide for yourself.
For visas that are needed in advance, you may wish to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy or consulate. If you require any supporting documentation for your visa applications, Dragoman will obtain this on your behalf as part of your trip price - we will contact you to request additional information in order to make this application for you.
However, for trips that involve multiple visas, you may find it beneficial to use a specialist visa agency to assist you with your applications. While this does sometimes increase the cost, it usually makes the process much easier for you.
As you will often need to submit your passport together with your applications, we recommend that you avoid making any travel plans in the weeks leading up to your departure.
Most countries require that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your entry into the country.
For trips that are not yet guaranteed, you may find yourself in the position whereby you will need to start the visa application process prior to your trip being guaranteed - in this situation we still advise you not to purchase flights until your trip is guaranteed. However, you can start your visa application process, ensuring that when applying for your visas or letters of invitation that you allow several days before and after your entry into the country to allow for delays, availability of flights, etc.
Citizens of the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, South Africa and all EU countries will not need a visa to visit Brazil as a tourist for up to 90 days.
Citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea and the USA will need a visa to visit Brazil. You will need to obtain the visa in advance. You can arrange this in advance of your travel by applying directly yourself with your nearest Brazilian Consulate, or by hiring a specialist visa agency to make the application on your behalf. Please note that most Brazilian consulates do not accept postal applications, so require either you or a visa agent to make an appointment in person – there are also strict rules regarding where you can apply for your visa, and the application will be rejected if it is not made at the consulate nearest to where you are ‘resident’, so please check the consulate’s jurisdiction before your application.
Another option to obtain the visa is by applying at the Brazilian Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This is possible for most foreign tourists, but you will need to allow at least 3 working days for the visa to be processed, and you must make an appointment and fill out a visa request form online prior to your arrival at the embassy, and there are strict requirements for what supporting documents you will need – please visit the embassy’s website here for more information and to set up your appointment: http://www.conbrasil.org.ar/CONSBRASIL/visas_otros01engl.asp
Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance.
If your flight to Central or South America goes via the USA, then you must obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before travel (except for citizens of Canada, who will not require this). Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and most EU countries are part of the USA’s Visa Waiver Scheme and are eligible to obtain an ESTA.
An ESTA must be obtained online and in advance via the following link and paying the appropriate fee - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ - please note that you will be denied boarding your flight if you do not have this arranged.
If you are not eligible for an ESTA, then you will have to obtain a B-1/B-2 visa for temporary visitors, and you will need to obtain it in advance. In this case it would be advisable to book flights that do not go via the USA.
Please note that if you have travelled to Iran, Sudan, Iraq or Syria since March 2011, or hold dual-nationality with one of these countries, then you will not be eligible for an ESTA and must instead apply for a visa. There are some exceptions to this, please see the following link for more details - http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/01/251577.htm.
Similarly, if your flight to Central or South America goes via Canada, then you must obtain a Canadian Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) before travel (except for citizens of the USA, who will not require this). Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, most EU countries, South Korea and Japan are part of Canada's Visa Waiver Scheme and are eligible to obtain an eTA.
An eTA must be arranged online and in advance – please go to http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/ , apply and pay the appropriate fee.
If you are not eligible for an eTA, then you will have to obtain a Temporary Resident Visa, and you will need to obtain it in advance. In this case it would be advisable to book flights that do not go via Canada. Please note that several Eastern European nationalities will need a visa.
Dragoman was founded in 1981, and has had many years of experience of leading overland trips across 4 continents. Overlanding is all about sharing a great travelling experience with like-minded people. On your trip you’ll travel in one of Dragoman’s purpose-built iconic expedition vehicles on an off the beaten track adventure along rugged roads, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of the world up-close. Your journey will be overland, sometimes across vast distances, so some long days spent driving are inevitable - but these will be interspersed with breaks of a day or two at a destination or activity. On an overland journey, you are more than just a passenger and everyone gets involved setting up camp - we supply the tent but it’s up to you to pitch it! As part of your trip, you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting firewood or water, luggage loading, organising food, stores, etc.
Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!
We are looking forward to welcoming you on one of our overland journeys, but before we do there are a few things we would like to draw to your attention.
Our groups are made up of people from around the world, and are always an interesting mix of nationalities and ages. On average there is a pretty even split between males to females, and between solo travellers, couples and small groups of friends. We believe that overlanding should be open to as many people as possible, and so although we have a minimum age limit of 18 (or 7 on our Family Trips), as long as you are fit, healthy and passionate about travel, we are happy to take you, whatever your age is. One of the wonderful aspects of group travel is the camaraderie and friendships that are formed along the way, and the variety of people that you will meet.
The maximum group size we take on our overland journeys ranges from 19 to 22 depending on the geographical location; however the average number of passengers is more likely to be around 16.
Please note that there is an overlap of 2 trips in Cuzco and during the Inca Treks. This means a group starting a trip in Cuzco will embark on the Inca Trail at the same time as a group finishing in or travelling through Cuzco. In practical terms this means there could be more than 22 group members in Cuzco and on the Inca Trail at the same time.
Please note that there is also an overlap of 2 trips in Zanzibar. This means a group starting a trip in Nairobi, for example, will visit Zanzibar at the same time as a group starting their trip there. In practical terms this means there could be more than 22 group members in Zanzibar at the same time.
Please also note that on some departures there may be more than one truck doing the same route. This means that you will be in the same hotel or campsite as another Dragoman group on some days. To ensure that you are not always at the same place at the same time as another group, your itinerary will most likely be slightly altered from the itinerary advertised in these trip notes.
Our crew are passionate about travel and are always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all the overland companies, spending 8 weeks learning the ropes at our base in Suffolk, UK, and then up to 6 months on the road as a trainee. Our crew are trained to manage and operate the trip safely and efficiently and their duties include: planning the trip according to the itinerary, driving and maintaining the truck, securing services of local guides, general logistics, health and safety, liaising with bureaucracy, dealing with issues where needed and offering advice and support to our customers. In addition they have a basic knowledge of the places visited and will be able to offer suggestions of things to do and see. Dragoman endeavours to provide the services of experienced crew, however, due to the seasonality of travel, situations may arise where your tour leader is new to a particular region or training other crew, new to the area.
On all Dragoman overlanding trips, we usually have 2 western crew. However on our trips in East and Southern Africa we either have 2 western crew or 1 western crew and 1 local driver. On trips south of Nairobi in East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes.
In most other areas of Africa, the Americas, India and Turkey, in addition to our crew we will employ local guides in specific locations of interest (for just a few hours up to a few days).
On the majority of our trips in Ethiopia, Sudan, Central Asia, China and South East Asia, in addition to our crew we will have a local guide on board who will travel with us for the entire duration of our time within one country. In these cases, the local guide becomes a third crew member and is able to offer their local knowledge as well as an insight into their country and the lives of the local people.
Your crew have a duty of care to all members of the group and therefore they have the authority to ask you to leave the trip if you require serious medical assistance, you are behaving in an anti-social manner or refuse to comply with local laws and customs. In all matters relating to the trip, the leader's decision will be final and we appreciate your respect of this.
Dragoman's overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels or hostels, and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Whilst our crew will do their best to accommodate couples travelling together in twin rooms, all our travellers should expect to stay in multi-share accommodation when staying in hostels, gers or yurts.
The type, variety and standard of accommodation will vary greatly depending on what options are available at the time; hotels can vary from very basic rooms without electricity or running water to high standard hotels with good facilities! Generally in hotels most rooms will be single sex, twin-share, but in South America many rooms are triple/quad-share. Hostels, gers and yurts are nearly always multi-share and may be mixed sex.
The campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we wild camp away from the tourist crowds. Occasionally on some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays allowing us to get close to the indigenous population and ensuring that our money stays within the local community.
In addition to the trip price on our overlanding trips, you will also be required to pay a kitty specified for your trip (please note that there is no kitty on our Family Trips). The kitty is payable in installments at the start of each section of the trip for combination trips, and in full at the start of the trip for individual trips. Each customer joining a trip pays their kitty into a central fund. The fund is managed by the Dragoman crew and the kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.
The kitty covers all things that the whole group does, such as:
• Hotel accommodation and campsite fees
• Meals whilst camping (not whilst staying in hotels)
• Activities listed as included (e.g. National Park or historical site entrances, excursions, etc.).
The kitty system is unique to overlanding and allows us to have flexibility and transparency on our trips. You can see exactly how your money is being spent and ensure that you are getting the best value by buying locally. It also helps to keep the costs competitive and save on administration costs so that we can pass the saving on to you. Dragoman makes NO PROFIT on kitties, as they are the group's fund. We constantly update the kitty prices on our website and the kitty advertised in the brochure is an estimate at the time of printing. Prices can go up or down with no notice, and exchange rate fluctuations will affect costs. If there is money left in the kitty at the end of your trip, then this is divided between the group and you receive a refund.
Once you book your trip it is very important that you check our website on a regular basis and just before departure for any changes to the kitty amount.
The kitty is payable in full at the start of your trip (in installments at the start of each individual trip on combination trips). Alternatively you can pay in advance via a bank transfer 3-4 weeks before the start of your trip - please see http://www.dragoman.com/files/Kitty_doc_v6.pdf for more details - this letter will also be sent in your booking confirmation upon booking a trip. Please also note that this option is not available for our trips to West Africa or Iran.
If you are bringing the kitty out in cash, please try to pay in US Dollars. Your tour leader will be able to accept some of the kitty in local currency if needed, and they will let you know the exchange rate locally - in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines, using either a cash passport or a credit/debit card. Please bear in mind that most cards have a maximum withdrawal amount per day, local ATMs may run out of cash, and your bank could block the card despite you warning them of your travel plans, so it could be impractical to try to get the entire kitty out from an ATM.
We cannot accept traveller's cheques on our trips.
On an overland journey you are more than just an individual passenger - you're part of the team. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc. While camping on overland journeys, the meals are included in the kitty. This means that you will have to work together to cook for everyone in your group. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your group's turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people using a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple! (On trips south of Nairobi we have a cook on board the truck; however you will still be required to help them to prepare meals).
An example of a typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, fruit and cereal as well as tea and coffee. When time allows it will also be possible to serve something hot such as eggs or pancakes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.
If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and tell your crew at your welcome meeting. Our crew will try to cater for any particular dietary requirement or food intolerance whenever possible. However, it must be remembered that it may not always be possible and the variety of dishes may be severely limited in comparison to those available to others. If there is anything in particular you require in your diet, that you would miss from home, or because of an allergy would miss out on, it would be best to bring this with you. Depending on your particular requirements, you may need to allow yourself some extra spending money to allow you to purchase extra food items.
Our itineraries are developed and published with the best of intentions, however travel in more remote areas of the world is unpredictable – borders can close, there can be extreme adverse weather, strikes or maybe mechanical issues that affect the running of your trip, but equally due to the nature of our trips we can often spontaneously include a local festival or event into the itinerary. This being said, the safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a priority for Dragoman. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. By the very nature of the adventure travel that we take, there are risks and hazards that are inherent in our itineraries. Dragoman makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources:
• The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice
• Reports from other travel companies and local suppliers
• Leaders reports from off the road
• Local contacts we have built up over many years of experience.
Dragoman follows the British Foreign Office Travel advice when deciding where and where we are unable to travel. We will base our decisions on itineraries and alterations to published routes based on their advice rather than the advice of other governments.
However, we recommend you check the latest travel advisories from your own government for the country you are travelling to before you book and prior to departure. If there are any travel warnings present for the region you will travel to, as well as considering whether you are happy to travel despite the warning you must also check to ensure that it is not invalidating your travel insurance. Here are a few useful addresses:
Australia - http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/
New Zealand - http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/
United States - https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html
We also recommend that you check out the UK Travel Aware website before you travel at https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/. This website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up-to-date country information to help you plan a safe trip.
We will advise you of any significant changes in advice before travel or whilst you are overseas.
You need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully in our trips. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assessed your ability to cope with our style of travel. To help you assess if this trip is suitable, please refer to the physical rating. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases you should be prepared for some long driving days and possibly limited facilities. We are always happy to give extra advice if you have additional concerns. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, you are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to yourself and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude you from all or part of the trip without a refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information prior to travel, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition. We also advise you to declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your travel insurers upon purchase.
Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor. For trips that travel to areas of high altitude, the tour leader will issue you with a self-assessment altitude questionnaire which allows you to monitor how you are coping with the altitude and informs you of danger signals so that you can reports these as soon as possible, either to the tour leader or a medical professional.
A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.
It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.
Malaria & other mosquito-borne diseases
Some areas that we travel to have a risk of contracting malaria. If you will travel through these areas, it's always best to get expert advice before travelling about the types of malaria pills available, whether they are recommended, and take any that are prescribed as instructed. Consult your GP or travel clinic for the most up-to-date requirements.
Other mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and Zika are continuing to spread and are becoming a bigger problem around the world. Mosquito bite prevention is vital to avoid contracting any of these diseases, as there are no vaccines or specific treatments available. Health professionals have issued warnings for pregnant women travelling to areas affected by the Zika virus - please see more information here.
The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn, so covering up by wearing long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, preferably light-coloured and buttoned at the wrists, can help. Do not sleep without closing your windows, tent door, etc. and use a mosquito net in hotels or if sleeping outside where there are mosquitos present. Use mosquito repellent applied directly to your skin or soaked into your clothing.
Treating clothes and mosquito nets with a Permetherin solution provides significant protection. It should be available at most travel stores. Mosquito coils are useful on still nights and in hotel rooms, but cannot be used inside the tents.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protections vary according to different regions and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest specific health advice on the regions and countries you are planning to travel in, so please check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel. The following websites are also a helpful resource: www.nathnac.org and www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk
In the UK, we have been working with Nomad Travel for many years and their website has comprehensive, up-to-date vaccination and health information. You will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.
At Dragoman your safety is of paramount importance and we will do our best to ensure that your travel with us is safe and trouble-free, but we do ask that you take that little bit of extra care whilst you are away and to understand about the nature of this style of travel.
Of course we want you to have an enjoyable time, but you must also remember that part of the enjoyment of travel is experiencing a different way of life and cultures. This may also mean experiencing different safety and hygiene standards than those you are normally used to.
Therefore, please take note of the following safety tips and follow any local safety advice or briefings delivered by our crew or any third-party suppliers we use during your trip.
• Our own vehicles have fully-fitted seat belts; make sure you always belt up.
• If you find a safety belt inoperable or missing on one of our vehicles, please inform the crew immediately.
• Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that other vehicles we may use or recommend in some countries will be fitted with seat belts on every seat as it is not a legal requirement in much of the world.
• Please remain seated on board vehicles at all times when the vehicle is in motion.
• Never place luggage in the aisles or foot wells.
• Ensure you know where your nearest Emergency exit is; this may be a designated emergency exit, a window, a door, or a roof hatch.
• Check the location of the fire extinguisher and first aid kit.
• Follow any safety instructions provided by the crew/driver.
• Our vehicles are fitted with roof seats which can be used in certain conditions, such as when driving at low speeds, off main tarmac roads, etc. The roof hatches can only be opened and the roof seats used with the express permission of the crew and you must never sit in the roof seats without seat belts.
• Traffic in some countries travels on the opposite side of the road to what you may be used to, so ensure you look both ways before crossing the road.
• In many countries vehicles do not automatically stop at crossings and driving styles may be very unpredictable, so please remain very vigilant when near roads and vehicles.
• Crash helmets are often not provided with mopeds and motorbikes overseas – we do not recommend you hire these vehicles.
• Ensure you know where your nearest fire exit is and check to ensure that it is operative.
• Check the location of the nearest fire extinguisher.
• Study the fire instructions in your room if available.
• Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.
• If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.
• Proceed to an assembly point well away from the building.
• Electrics in hotels in many of the places that we visit will not be up to the same standards as at home. Please ensure that you check rooms, especially bathrooms and are aware of any issues that look unsafe. If in doubt inform the crew who will endeavour to sort the situation out if possible.
• Staircases and stairwells are often built to a very different design than under western building standards. There may be no guard rails, be excessively steep, have dangerous gaps between the stairs and the wall, etc. At all times be aware and take appropriate and prudent care.
• We often stay in homestays and farmstays. These may range from a traditional yurt through to a tree house or a town house. As these are traditional homes, they may well not adhere to our western standards of safety and so it is important that you make yourself aware of potential risks.
• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with the hotels/hostels or homestays.
Fire Safety – Campsites
• Ensure you know where the nearest source of water or fire extinguisher is.
• Know how to raise the alarm.
• Extinguish all camping fires fully before retiring to bed.
• Observe any regulations regarding fires and bushfires in dry conditions.
• Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.
• If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.
• Proceed to an assembly point away from the tented accommodation/affected campsite.
Other Campsite Safety & Security
• Familiarise yourself with the campsite and any known hazards.
• Group the tents around our vehicle wherever possible.
• No open flames, smoking or flammable liquids in or near the tents.
• Ensure the cooking area is well away from the tents.
• Ensure all water for cooking and drinking is purified first.
• Ensure any soil toilets are a minimum of 50m away from the tents and the cooking area.
• All food waste should be burned or buried a minimum of 100m away from the site.
• Ensure local advice is followed concerning any wildlife in the area.
• Keep valuables locked in the vehicle.
• Be aware of any local security issues that might be important.
• Do not set out tents close to perimeter fences which may be a security risk.
• Be aware of the security arrangements and local guards for campsite and if in doubt ask them where and where not to pitch tents.
• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with campsite.
• When wild camping, ensure that you do not wander away from the camp alone. If you do leave camp, ensure that you have notified the leader or other members of the group.
• Make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked.
• Hot food should be hot, cold food should be cold.
• Avoid any uncooked food, except fruit and vegetables (notably those you can peel or shell yourself).
• In many countries you should only drink bottled water or purified water and ensure any seal is intact when purchasing bottles.
• On the Dragoman vehicles we have a tank of drinking water that is kept purified by the crew.
• Avoid ice in drinks as this can cause upset stomachs in hot climates.
• Make sure you wash your hands in antibacterial product when preparing and/or eating food.
• Many of the restaurants that you will eat in, either as a group or as individuals, will NOT have the same standards of food hygiene as we have in the western world. Unfortunately this is a reality of life in these regions. Therefore please think carefully about where you eat, what food you order and be aware of the risks.
One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling. There is no doubt that a properly-equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. Generally speaking, you will not be travelling on local public transport and will have the added security of travelling in a group with experienced crew on-hand to offer advice. We have come up with a few pointers that we recommend you follow:
• Follow the crew’s specific safety advice in each destination.
• Always remain aware and vigilant, and stay away from situations where you do not feel comfortable.
• Avoid carrying too much money.
• Always avoid carrying your passport, driving licence, air tickets, and other valuable items around with you unless this is essential. Instead, keep valuables such as this locked away in the truck's safe, or the safety deposit box in the room or reception of the hotel/hostel.
• If you are carrying cash, cards or valuables, use a money belt or neck wallet which are more easily concealed and more difficult to pickpocket.
• Do not take any valuable jewellery, watches, etc. away with you in the first place.
• Avoid walking in poorly lit areas.
• If possible avoid walking around on your own; it is always safer to explore with others.
• Always try to walk with confidence and purpose, which will help you avoid looking like a lost tourist!
• Take special care when walking to avoid spraining or twisting your ankle on potholes, cobbles and uneven ground.
You will have the opportunity to take part in many exciting activities and excursions, some of which are included (e.g. hiking the Inca Trail, trekking to see Mountain Gorillas, visiting the Taj Mahal, etc.), whilst others are optional (e.g. white water rafting in Uganda, zip-lining in Costa Rica, etc.). Some of these activities require a certain level of fitness, so it’s important that you read through the trip notes thoroughly and make your own conclusions as to whether you feel that you are fit and healthy enough to enjoy this trip and its activities to their fullest.
Some activities may have higher risks than you are used to and you must judge whether or not you wish, or have the physical ability, to take part.
Optional activities mentioned by Dragoman are not included in the trip price or kitty, and do not form part of your contract with Dragoman. As such you accept that any assistance given by Dragoman crew members or local representatives in arranging optional activities does not render us liable for them in any way. The Dragoman crew are assisting you in arranging these activities for your added enjoyment whilst on your trip. The operators of these services and optional extras are local suppliers who contract directly with the client ‘on the road’, subject to and in accordance with their own terms and conditions. Dragoman accepts no liability for any action or activity undertaken by the client which is arranged independently of Dragoman while on tour. Crew may take part in an optional activity but do so as private individuals and not as company representatives.
Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time.
Ensure that you use the appropriate equipment on optional activities, including life jackets, helmets, etc. This is especially important on activities such as horse riding, white-water rafting, etc.
Always ensure that your travel medical insurance covers you for all included and optional activities that you wish to participate in.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not necessarily be refunded; this is something you will need to check with your leader.
A selection of optional activities is listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This list is designed to be a helpful guide as to what is commonly available in each location, and is neither an exhaustive list, a guarantee that the activity is available, or an endorsement or recommendation. Please note that certain activities may not be available on your particular visit if they are overbooked, underbooked, out of season, or for any other reason - the list of activities is made according to our latest information and in the best faith, but please be aware that things may change between our last visit and your arrival. Please also note that it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, and it is recommended to give yourself extra time in your joining or ending city if you would like to participate in some optional activities there.
Prices listed are for entrance only and do not include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated - again, these prices are displayed according to our latest information and in the best faith, but prices do fluctuate due to exchange rates, season, numbers of participants, and simple increases from the operator - any prices listed are a guide only and certainly cannot be guaranteed.
Optional activities are not necessarily endorsed or recommended by Dragoman nor included in the price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and does not form part of your contract with Dragoman. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or optional activity form for some optional activities.
It is a condition of booking that you have comprehensive travel insurance. Without evidence of valid travel insurance you will not be allowed to start the trip.
We recommend that any policy has a minimum medical (including repatriation) cover of £5,000,000. We recommend that any policy also has a minimum level of cover for Personal Liability of £2,000,000 and for Cancellation and Curtailment of £5,000 (or the full cost of your trip). Cover for loss of baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice although please bear in mind that personal effects are more likely to go missing whilst travelling and you should ensure that your policy is adequate to cover the value of your personal effects e.g. cameras, tablets, phones, ipods, etc. Please note that Dragoman is not responsible for your personal effects and is not insured for their loss. Please note that you should be insured for trip postponment or cancellation purposes immediately upon paying a deposit.
Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel and make sure it covers any activity that you intend to undertake (whether included or optional). As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding, etc., and that the 24-hour Emergency Assistance Company must be experienced in handling situations in developing countries - for example, that they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. On activities or side trips that are not recommended by us, please ensure you are happy with the safety of the activity before participating.
Please double check if you have annual travel and/or credit card policies to ensure they have the cover you require, as many of these policies are not able to cope with adventure travel to remote areas. Many credit card medical insurance policies are not valid for travelling outside your country of residence or outside the EU.
Dragoman has comprehensive passenger vehicle liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 per incident respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.
We have an out of office hours number you can call which should only be used once you have left your home country to start the trip and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours. If you can not get through please leave a message with you name, reference number, contact details and a message with the help that you need and we will get back to you.
If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked and the crew informed if necessary.
Although you will not have to carry your main bag for long distances, you will need to help load and unload them onto the truck. For this reason we recommend that you use a backpack or soft bag rather than a heavy suitcase. During your trip your main luggage will be kept in the truck's back locker which will be inaccessible during a drive day, so you will also need a small daypack. This can be used to carry your camera, water bottle and other personal effects for daily use. Please be aware that due to the constant dust and vibrations your luggage bag will be subject to extreme wear and tear.
The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. We recommend that your bag be no larger than a large rucksack with a capacity of about 80 litres (approximately 70cm high, 40cm wide, and 40cm deep). The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is a maximum of 20kg. Backpacks should not have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.
Your clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in, which will vary depending on which part of the world you're heading to. On overland trips, Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats, so you'll need to bring those with you*.
Think about the climate and altitude of the areas you'll be travelling to - there's nothing worse than being cold at night so it's worth investing in a decent sleeping bag if it's likely to get cold. And remember that even when it's warm during the day, it can often get cold at night, particularly in desert regions.
For a general idea of what you need, this list provides a guide:
• Sleeping bag* - check the expected climate en route. Nights in desert, mountain and high-altitude regions and Patagonia can be very cold, especially in winter months.
• Sleeping bag liner* (or sheet folded and sewn up on 2 sides) - this will help keep your sleeping bag clean, provide extra insulation on cold nights, and can be used on its own on warm nights.
• Ground mat or compressed foam*.
• A day pack is useful for short hikes in the countryside, wandering around cities, etc., and also for keeping inside the vehicle for items used during the day.
• 2 sets of comfortable travelling clothes (light, easily washable cotton clothes are best).
• 1 set of casual but smart clothes for evenings out. Men should bring a pair of trousers that covers al their legs and women should bring a skirt that covers their knees and a scarf for visiting places of worship.
• 2 pairs of shorts.
• Sun hat or warm hat if trekking.
• 1 pair of sunglasses.
• Warm sweater/fleeces.
• 1 waterproof jacket with hood.
• 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes/boots (or ankle height canvas jungle boots).
• 1 pair of sandals or flip-flops.
• Underwear and socks - thermals are also a good idea if you are travelling to altitude, Patagonia or to the desert, as it can get very cold at night.
• 2 small towels.
• Washing kit, including a small mirror.
• Clothes washing detergent, small scrubbing brush and washing line (just a length of cord).
• Head torch/flashlight with spare batteries and bulbs - only the 3 standard sizes of round 1.5V batteries are widely available en route.
• Passport photos - at least 4, and more if you are applying for visas en route.
• Good water bottle - at least 1 litre capacity.
• A pouch or money belt to be worn inside your clothing, or an unobtrusive pocket sewn into the inside of a pair of loose fitting trousers.
• Alarm clock.
• Pocket calculator - useful when exchanging money.
• Writing materials and notebook/diary.
• Multi purpose knife.
• Mosquito net - the tents supplied by us have mosquito netting and you will only need a net if you think you will sleep out under the stars a lot of the time.
• "Wet Wipes" (moistened tissues) and hand gel.
• Toilet paper - this can be purchased almost everywhere en-route, but one roll may be worth packing.
• Assorted sized plastic bags - protects clothing and equipment from dust and damp.
• Extra batteries for your camera, etc., as there may are only limited opportunities to recharge them en route.
For a comprehensive kit list, take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel has created. Dragoman customers can receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click here to see the kit list - http://www.nomadtravel.co.uk/c/381/Overland
*For trips with camping nights.
All of our trucks have a standard motorist's first aid kit on board for use in emergency situations only. The first aid kit is in compliance with UK standards for first aid provision within motor vehicles, and contain supplies to treat road side injuries. We do not carry prescription medications, therefore in addition to this we recommend that you purchase your own personal medical kit.
In the UK we have teamed up with Nomad Travel Stores and Clinics to produce travel medical kits. They have been designed in conjunction with the truck kits and contain everything you would need for any minor incidents and health issues. For more details please visit their website:
Overlander kit (including painkillers) - www.nomadtravel.co.uk/p/2910/Overlander-Medical-Kit-(P)
Independent kit (including painkillers and antibiotics) - www.nomadtravel.co.uk/p/2909/Independent-Medical-Kit-(POM)
Check that your passport will still be valid for 6 months after the end of your trip - this is important as some countries WILL refuse entry to anyone whose passport is due to expire. A temporary or 'visitor's' passport is not valid on our trips. You will need to provide us with your passport details prior to departing for your trip. If you change your passport, please remember to inform us as soon as possible - however, please be aware that changing your passport can cause big problems if you need to apply for visas or permits (such as the Inca Trail or Gorilla Trekking) in advance.
At Dragoman we believe you should make the most of the places you visit, so if you would like to see more of the joining or finishing point cities, why not book additional accommodation to extend your stay? Dragoman can take away the hassle of time zones and language barriers by making the booking for you. This accommodation is only available at the joining or finishing city of your trip, immediately before or after the trip you are travelling on.
While Dragoman is happy to assist with booking your pre and post trip accommodation, it is important that you understand that you may be able to book your own room at a cheaper rate directly through the hotel or on the internet. Our additional accommodation prices are based on the hotel’s rate plus an administration fee. Please note our rates do not reflect last minute walk-in rates or internet specials.
We can also book arrival airport transfers for you as long as we have your flight arrival details. These are normally payable in cash upon arrival; however we do have pre-paid transfers in a few destinations.
Please contact our reservations team for details of the accommodation and transfers that we can offer, as not all hotels offer this service.
Having an amazing trip and met a great group of people? Having too much fun to go home yet? If you're on one of our trips and decide that you would like to continue with us, then why not speak to your trip leader who can advise you of the cost and availability of continuing your journey.
Sometimes, civil or political unrest, or reasons beyond Dragoman's control (e.g. a natural disaster), can mean that an itinerary is disrupted and we have to make a contingency plan. This may involve hiring alternate transport or even the whole group flying over an area. Although Dragoman will help organise travel arrangements, in circumstances outside Dragoman's control you will be required to contribute the additional costs involved and therefore we ask you to bring along a 'Contingency Fund' of USD400. In almost all cases trips run smoothly and this fund is therefore never used. We also recommend that you take along an internationally recognised credit or charge card with a decent limit in case of emergencies, such as medical treatment en route, or even the need to be repatriated; though these occurrences are rare. Remember that travel insurance policies usually only refund you for expenses after you have already paid out.
Dragoman is committed to ensuring that we have a positive impact on local communities and that we implement policies to minimise any negative impact on the local environment. We are dedicated to making sure that we adopt a responsible attitude to the areas through which we travel and believe that our trips should benefit the local people and their environment. Dragoman recognises that we are guests of local communities and strive to make these communities our partners, so that they benefit directly from our visit. You can find full details of Dragoman’s Responsible Tourism policy from the link below:
The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in the bottle, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilised water stored in the purpose-built storage tank on your overland vehicle. You are free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like. You are helping the environment and your pocket!
Your vehicle will be usually equipped with a 12-Volt socket, so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12V adapter - the type that can be used from a cigarette lighter in your car. Please be aware that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets and the majority of the campsites we stay at have electricity points, so please bring along your normal charging adapters as well. You will need to ensure that you have the correct country adapter for your specific charger.
For mobile phones, please note that most countries in the Americas operate at 850 MHz and 1900 MHz which is not the same frequencies used in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Most modern tri-band and quad-band mobile phones will be able to operate on these frequencies but please check your mobile phone specifications before travelling to ensure that you'll be able to use your phone in the Americas.
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs is not only against the law, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Dragoman groups.
It is one of our core values to treat all people we encounter with respect which of course includes all the local people who make our destinations so special. The exploitation of prostitutes or children is completely contrary to this philosophy.
Equally Dragoman will not tolerate any violence or threat of violence towards local people, other group members or any member of our staff. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession, if they use prostitutes, abuse children, use violence or threaten violence, without a refund of the trip price.
We expect you to obey all the laws of the countries through which we pass. This particularly applies to the smuggling of contraband and possession of narcotic drugs (as above), firearms, antiquities and ivory. Any customer found contravening such laws or customs will be required to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price.
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local partner straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction. If this is the case please contact our customer relations department on
You may also choose to provide details in your feedback questionnaire which we ask you to complete at the end of your trip, but we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
Tipping is entirely voluntary. The Dragoman crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it.
On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own Dragoman crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD 1 to USD 4 per person per day, but check with your crew for an appropriate amount.
At any time before or after you book, you can join our community - Dragoland. This is a great place to ask questions before you travel and to catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories and you can also download a selection of free travel apps. See the home page to sign in - it's free and easy. We also have a Facebook page where travellers regularly swap info with each other, as well as other presence on other social media platforms.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us to understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better, and it allows us to make improvements for future travellers.